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Rules of the Melon

By Dennis Staples

Watermelons are cheaper than I would have guessed, which is a shame because I find them repulsive. Still, I buy a green, kickball fruit at the Walmart self-checkout while Taylor laughs and Rico asks what we are planning on doing.

“The road will tell us,” I tell them.

It turns out the road doesn’t have much to say. It is silenced by layers of ice that could be deadly. It might not be a good idea to choose this night, but we have a mission with the watermelon, and even if we don’t know what that mission specifically entails, we are determined to finish it.

In the car, I hold my watermelon and insist again that the road will tell us where to go, but Rico has the idea to take the back roads and look for a basketball hoop. He wants to slam dunk a watermelon in icy weather, and really, who can blame him?

We don’t find a basketball hoop, but we do find a metal Christmas tree in the driveway of some kind of apartment complex. Rico parks in the shadows while I sneak up to the tree and start to climb it, one hand grabbing the metal branches and the other holding the melon. I am going to impale it on the star at the top.

I don’t reach the star. Instead, a light above the front door turns on and turns this mission into a failure. I retreat back to the shadows, careful not to slip on the black ice, and we drive away.

“Did the road tell you about that?” Taylor asks.

“The road’s a fucking liar,” I say.

The back roads aren’t presenting us with much opportunity. Soon enough, we find ourselves in empty downtown Bemidji, wondering what the bar district could offer a fresh watermelon and three college-aged idiots.

“Let’s establish some rules. The Rules of the Melon,” I say. “Number one: Don’t drop the melon. Number two: Don’t eat the melon. Number three: When the time comes, we’ll know what to do with the melon, and not before.”

As soon as I list my rules, I see an opportunity in the empty sidewalk ahead of us. No time to think it over. I send the fruit rolling down the sidewalk at a moderate fruit speed.

“You said don’t drop the melon, fucker!” Taylor says.

“That wasn’t a drop!”

“If it breaks open, I’m eating it!” Rico says.

Either ice is weak or melons are tough because there are no cracks or damage. The melon rolls off of the sidewalk and into a small garden covered in crusty snow. Near the snowbank are two old-timey bicycle statues, one blue and one yellow. For the moment, downtown is empty.

I stick the watermelon between two spokes of the big blue wheel. We retreat from the scene right away and start driving again.

The road finally tells me something.

Taylor is a liar.

***

The Brotherhood of the Travelling Melon

By Taylor Gustafson

 It’s been sleeting for about an hour when we shuffle like the elderly out the front doors of Birch Hall to Rico’s parked car.

“Of course we decide to do this on the shittiest night of the week,” I say. Roads, we’ll write about the slick as all hell roads and where they take us. We’ve driven for less than a minute when John Fogerty’s voice comes over the radio and asks us if we’ve ever seen the rain. We all laugh.

The roads suck. Here we are, setting out to romanticize them and their importance to human curiosity of the unknown, and they take us to Walmart. To be fair, I do need a few things. A watermelon about the size of a second grader’s head isn’t one of them, but I soon find myself buckling our group purchase into the empty seat next to me while we all throw out ideas as for what to do with it.

“I wanna dunk it in someone’s hoop,” Rico says.

“You can dunk?” Dennis asks.

“Of course I can, I just need to find one of those little kiddie hoops.”

My lack of basketball knowledge aside, the feat is not lost on me, though I ponder about how well it’ll go with all the ice.

From Walmart we set our sights on the edges of town, heading north up the lake shore and weaving our way through the progressively nicer houses.

“I could climb up that metallic Christmas tree and impale the mel—“

“Shut the hell up, Dennis,” I interject without even thinking. Rico laughs, no stranger to the torrent of bullshit that never seems to stop spewing from Dennis’s mouth. Soon we’re all laughing as said Christmas tree shrinks in the rearview mirror.

The roads take us to the Cattails parking lot, but not to eat. We take turns posing for photos with the melon beneath the restaurant’s sign, drawing the ire of an old man as he does the shuffle we’ve all but mastered to his truck.

The roads prove to be fickle leaders for an hour afterwards before we end up downtown, shoe-skating down the (mostly) empty sidewalks and taking turns at not dropping the now beloved fruit.

Then we find it: the provocatively-posed bear statue that we discovered a couple weeks ago while walking home with a buzz from Bar 209.

The roads have delivered in the end, and we leave our round, green friend there on the bear’s stomach, something she proudly holds up for the entire world to see.

With our mission complete, we duck into Hot Toddy’s to celebrate. Rico buys a pitcher of cider while I sip at a pint of IPA.

“I still say I could have got to the top of that tree,” Dennis chimes in.

Dennis, you’re a piss-poor liar.

 
Taylor Gustafson loves nature in a non-hippy way and would be lost without Scotch and Tolkien. Dennis Staples is a daydreamer who enjoys mythopoeia.